Pregnant Woman’s Diet; The microbiota is once again making headlines: American doctors now show that a very fat diet in the future mother would weaken the intestinal microbiota of her baby and influence her future immune defenses.
Pregnant Woman’s Diet Influences the Baby’s Future Immune Defenses
We understand each day a little better the role that can play the microbiota, this colony of 90 000 billion bacteria populating mainly our gut but also the skin, gums, nostrils or nose. This microbiota plays multiple roles in the body, whether it is the prevention of certain serious diseases such as diabetes, the control of our defense system against diseases, or its ability to control various brain mechanisms.
Knowing the critical role that this microbiota can play in the development of the organism, it has seemed interesting to a group of American physicians from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas to study the possible influence of the diet of a pregnant woman on the microbiota of her future child. We know today that the in utero environment is not sterile as we thought it was a long time ago, and that a part of the microbiota is already present in the placenta as well as in the amniotic fluid.
Texan researchers have therefore decided to follow up to 160 pregnant women and to study the microorganisms carried by their offspring from birth, to see how much the future mothers ate during pregnancy and during breastfeeding. , would influence the quality of the microbiota of their babies. Better: inspired by a study they themselves had conducted on a model of primates, they chose to focus specifically their investigation on the calorie density and fat content of food ingested by moms.
A very detailed questionnaire
Thus the researchers first selected a group of 81 pregnant women, representative of the general population in order to follow their diet from 3rd trimester and up to a few weeks after delivery. At the same time, 82 other mother-child “pairs”, with characteristics identical to the first group, would constitute a reference group. Thus, given 2 drop-outs and 4 deliveries that eventually took place elsewhere, the researchers had a cohort of 157 mothers-children for their study.
These 157 pregnant women had to answer, in the presence of one of the investigators, an extremely detailed questionnaire of about thirty chapters concerning the composition of their diet and the frequency with which they consumed such or such a food. This ranged from the possible presence of a special diet to the greater or lesser consumption of milk or dairy products in their daily diet, through the place of coffee, fruit juice, soda, cereals, or even various potato dishes. The presence of more or less important fruits and vegetables was not forgotten, any more than that of pasta, rice, meat, or cheese.
In short, the investigators had at the end a fairly detailed knowledge of the diet of these future mothers, and the amount of fat ingested. They then chose to constitute two sufficiently distinct groups, with the mothers being at the two extremes of fat consumption. Gathering 13 mothers each, these two groups (low or very fat food) would make it possible to draw conclusions about the impact of the diet during pregnancy.
Regarding the microbiota of newborns, the researchers carried out, 24 to 48 hours after the delivery, the sampling of the first saddles (meconium) of the infant, operation which would be renewed after 4 to 6 weeks. These samples would lead to a thorough analysis, through DNA profiling to identify the various species of bacteria that composed them, and thus indirectly to determine their quality.
Thus, by reviewing the 103 species of different bacteria found in at least 10% of the samples analyzed, the researchers were struck by the fact that the relative abundance of several species seemed to be directly correlated to a more or less fat diet of the future. mothers. And more exactly, a diet very rich in the mother’s fat was reflected in the infant’s microbiota by a higher concentration of Enterococci and by a notable poverty of Bacteroides. In the sample taken at 6 weeks, there were mainly four species of bacteria that had significantly different abundances, but only the very low concentration of Bacteroides could be seriously correlated with a very fat diet of the mother.
Notice to future mothers
And this is the main lesson of this study, published in the journal Genome Medicine : inasmuch as these Bacteroid bacteria play a determining role, a significant reduction in their concentration in the newborn can have lasting harmful consequences. for the development of its immune system. The polysaccharides made by these bacteria stimulate the production of anti-inflammatory cytokines, and help to ensure good immunity in the gastric mucosa. In addition, since these Bacteroids are directly involved in the extraction of the energy available in the intestine, their depletion can hinder the rapid development of the child.
It is therefore crucial – the authors of the study conclude – that expectant mothers, even before pregnancy, adopt healthy eating habits if they want to provide their offspring with long-term benefits.